Sign on the village green
The Tarka Trail is a direct part-coastal path following the former railway
Fremington shown within Devon
|Population||10,529 2001 census|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Devon and Cornwall|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
Fremington is a very large quayside and inland village and civil parish in North Devon centred three miles (5 km) west of Barnstaple. It was formerly a borough that sent members to Parliament in the reign of Edward III. The parish includes the neighbouring hamlets (to a great extent villages) of Bickington and Yelland. Fremington hundred was one of the 32 historic occasional administrative and payment units of the county of Devon. Geographically, the centre of the village is approximately a mile (2 km) south of its quay, a historic wharf situated on the southern bank of the River Taw with plenty of residential property on all sides of its roads between Bideford and Barnstaple. Little Bridge House in the village is a children's hospice run by Children's Hospice South West.
The church, St Peter's, was thoroughly repaired and 'victorianised' in 1867 during renovations directed by the leading architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. The stone pulpit still carries traces of colour, apparently from the soil in which it was buried during the Reformation. St Peter's medieval tower is positioned at the east end of the church, to the north of the chancel, an oddity shared in North Devon with Barnstaple and Pilton on the opposide side of the large town.
The only other building of note is Fremington Manor, now a retirement home, 50 metres east of St Peter's. It is also a nineteenth-century remodelling.
Fremington's amenities include two pubs, The Fox and the New Inn; they are situated almost next door to each other.
Fremington is famous for Fishley Pottery made by the family of this name in the Combrew area examples of which can be seen in the Museum of Barnstaple. Excellent, stone-free clay pits (now mainly worked out) exist in the eastern half of the parish and were also owned by Brannam's pottery and used for their 'Barumware'. The clay may have formed in varve lakes, near an ice deposit which lay over Fremington during the Last Glacial Maximumor previous glaciations such as the Anglian (MIS12) or the Wolstonian glaciation (MIS6) Unusually, glacial deposits are found here in the county. Two patches of boulder clay lie over the centre of the parish's bedrock. The next nearest boulder clay can be found in the Gower Peninsula, South Wales, approximately 45 miles (72 km) due north of Fremington. The nearest deposit of boulder clay in England can be found in the central Cotswolds, 6 miles (10 km) due east of Bourton-on-the-Water and approximately 140 miles (225 km) north-east of Fremington. The existence of the boulder clay is puzzling as the southern-most limit of the Devensian glaciation is theorised to have been located over South Wales. There are few other signs of glaciation in North Devon to support an extension to a more southerly limit. It has been theorised that the surface covering was in some way attached to an ice-mass that drifted across the Bristol Channel and deposited the till over Fremington. This, however, does not fully explain the presence of the nearly co-located varve clay beds.
Fremington Quay was once important in the import and export of many goods. It had railway sidings, cranes, etc., for the export of ball clay and 'import' of coal. Between the early to mid-twentieth century it was the busiest (tonnage) port between Bristol and Lands End. In later life an abattoir was located here. The quay now has been redeveloped with a restaurant and facilities to enjoy wide views over the Taw estuary. It is now a Conservation Area having been designated such in 1996.
The population of Fremington, according to the census of 1801, was 875. This number increased gradually in the forty years to 1841, to 1,326 however the rate of increase slowed during the next 10 years and coinciding with the arrival of the railway fell from 1,351 in 1851 to 1,194 in 1901 and slightly lower in 1931. Population growth resumed after World War II and saw more than a doubling between 1961 and 2011, to 10,529 people. Data for 1801–1961 is available at Britain Through Time. The 2001 and 2011 Censuses give detailed information about the village. The settlement's population in 2011 were living in 4,496 households.
The number of dwellings in the village was relatively static between the first Ordnance Survey series in the 1880s until the World War II. Fremington has since multiplied in population. By 2001, the population of the village (rather than the parish) was approximately 4,250.
The A39 trunk road, which forms the main route to north-west Devon and north-east Cornwall, was diverted 2 miles (3 km) south of the village in 1989, relieving the village of its annual summer traffic jams.
Fremington is served by:
The West Fremington Presbyterian School for Boys was set up in 1873 by Presbyterian minister The Reverend William Morgan Topps with the assistance of his father, local landowner William Desmond Topps. The old school house was sold by Devon County Council in 1982 and converted to private dwelling. The school, that exists today as Fremington Community Primary & Nursery School, is near the centre of the post-war village expansion.
The Fremington great meat pie is described in a song included in Devon Tradition (Topic Records 12TS349), 1979. Sporting and open land facilities are provided by Fremington civil (administrative) parish council across all of the localities of the village, as well as having a village hall that may be hired by any of the residents of the whole parish. Allied is a Community Group who engage in charitable fundraising. The 1st Fremington Air Scouts group is also in the village.
The Tarka Trail cycle track (also part of the South West Coast Path), which follows the course of the railway from Barnstaple to Torrington, passes over Fremington Pill via the old London and South Western Railway iron bridge (railway line closed 1982; dismantled 1987) at Fremington Quay on the old Barnstaple to Torrington railtrack bed. The original railway was first planned in an Act of Parliament in 1838, and laid in 1846 connecting the Penhill with Barnstaple at a cost of £20 000. A number of boats are moored here (in the Pill). The 'Quay Cafe' is located here. Whilst rather charmingly built in the style of a railway station, it is not the original one which was located the other side of the Tarka Trail where an original platform still exists. Other features around the Pill include a couple of Lime kilns, now thoroughly fenced off to prevent accidents. The station was one stop after the still active railway station of Barnstaple, to which Fremington is linked directly by the wide scenic path described instead.
Fremington Army Camp was located here to be within easy marching distance (800 m) from the railway station at the Quay. The site was used by the US Army's 313th Station Hospital for post-D-Day rehabilitation, with room for 2,000 patients. It started receiving casualties on 20 July 1944.
It economically was complemented by the still current Marines and Air Force presence at Royal Marines Base Chivenor, a mile (2 km) northwards on the opposite bank of the River Taw, and the Amphibious Trials and Training Unit of the Royal Marines at Arromanches Camp, Instow, 2 miles (4 km) to the west. The camp was closed in autumn 2009.